Protecting your online privacy, reducing clutter on websites, and avoiding ads that may contain spyware can be achieved by using ad blockers. Our experience has shown that you don’t need to pay for ad-blocking software when excellent free options are available on the market. This guide presents a selection of effective and free ad blockers that work well with popular browsers like Chrome and Firefox, ensuring a smooth online experience.
The best free ad blockers
From our research, the best free ad blockers are:
- Total AdBlock – Offers a free trial for ad-blocking via Chrome extension, iOS, or Android, and includes a complete antivirus tool as a bonus
- AdLock – A great free ad blocker which works well across all devices.
- AdGuard – Excellent ad blocker, but no longer always free
- Adblocker Ultimate – Best all-around ad blocker on the market
- Stands Fair Adblocker – Ethically-centered ad blocker with favorable whitelisting features
- AdBlock Plus – Carries a useful element blocking feature to extend its usefulness
- Poper Blocker – Provides a distinct focus on removing overlay ads
- Trustnav Adblocker – Blocks most ads and is excellent when combined with its antivirus tool
- NoScript – Technical-level ad blocking for Firefox users (and only Firefox)
- Opera Browser – One of the best built-in ad blockers of any browser
Ad blockers are the obvious solution to removing unwanted ads on the web. Paid ad blockers are typically the best option if you want something that works the best, but many free ad blockers might just get the job done for you.
Below, you’ll find our detailed overview of the best free ad blockers available. No ad blocker is perfect, however, so you’ll find you may need to try out multiple options to find the right fit.
Note: If all you’re looking to do is get rid of annoying pop-up advertisements, check out our guide on the best popup ad blockers.
Best Ad Blockers- Browser plugins and apps
Your best ad blocking option is to install a browser plugin or utilize a web browser that already has a built-in blocker. Browser plugins or built-in ad blockers can interact with the websites you’re using much more accurately than a standalone program operating on your computer in the background.
Total Adblock is the top choice for users seeking a comprehensive ad-blocking solution. While it’s the only paid option on our list, it justifies its price with a potent ad-blocking capability that surpasses most free alternatives. Users can initially take advantage of a significant introductory discount, making it an attractive proposition right from the start.
Where Total Adblock shines is in its versatility and effectiveness. It proficiently filters out various advertising annoyances across different web platforms, from intrusive pop-ups to the often frustrating auto-play ads. The tool is particularly adept at enhancing the viewing experience on video streaming sites. Not only does it block ads on popular platforms like YouTube, but it also extends its capabilities to other ad-supported services such as Crunchyroll and Tubi. It bypasses even the more persistent ads, including Tubi’s age confirmation pop-up, offering a seamless viewing experience.
What sets Total Adblock apart from others is not just its ad-blocking prowess but also the value-added features it brings. Bundled with a lifetime subscription to TotalAV’s award-winning product and its PC Tune-Up software, it presents a comprehensive package that extends beyond mere ad blocking. This combination of advanced ad-blocking functionality and additional utilities makes Total Adblock a worthwhile investment for those seeking an uncluttered, uninterrupted, and secure online experience.
You can read our full TotalAV review here.
- Effective blocking of most annoying online ads
- Easy whitelisting and a quiet mode
- Completely blocks ads on YouTube and other video streaming sites
- Works on multiple web browsers and iOS devices (Android coming in the future)
- Not a free option
Works with: most major web browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, Edge, and Safari, as well as iOS devices
Far from being just a browser plugin, AdLock also offers Windows and Android tools that help block ads across your apps. Its feature set is long, especially for a free adblocker, which helps make it one of the better options on our list for wide-ranging usefulness beyond just blocking ads.
AdLock is designed to get rid of all forms of ads, and with but one exception, cleared away all of the ads that we tested across a variety of sites. This service blocked every ad on the various websites that we tested for this article, including ads on YouTube and other ad-supported streaming sites.
By default, the tool is designed to block every possible type of ad you might encounter. You can easily whitelist a site by clicking on “Settings” and then “Whitelist”. You’ll also be able to toggle a few additional filter settings in there if you so choose. Chances are, though, that you’ll likely want to leave those alone.
You can download AdLock free here.
- Blocks all types of advertisements
- Removes ads on videos
- Numerous add-on features, including warning against spam and scam links
- Can block ads across all apps and browsers through Windows app
- Some of its best features are locked behind a paywall
- Only blocks all ad types through the paid version
Works with: Chrome, Safari, iOS, macOS, Windows, Android
This tool has made one major improvement since we first wrote our list: It’s now competely free. Where AdGuard once tried to charge for this product, it now provides it for free. Instead, it now has other products it’s trying to sell, including a VPN.
AdGuard does exactly what you want it to do. You can block all of the types of advertisements that we tested, which is positive. It also carries a wide range of adjustable features that make it exceptionally useful for privacy and security, such as anti-phishing, anti-malware, and a cookie destroyer that deletes third-party cookies after an amount of time that you can independently set.
Since we first tested this product, it’s also been improved on what ads it will block. A retest shows that it blocks all types of ads, including on websites with ads that are often difficult to block.
- Now free forever
- A long list of interesting features, including anti-phishing and a cookie deleting tool
- Prevents tracking cookies
- Blocks Youtube and other video ads
- Charges for mutli-platform support
Works with: Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera, Microsoft Edge, Yandex.Browser, Windows, macOS, iOS, Android
Another open-source project, AdBlocker Ultimate is good at removing most ads you might come across. In testing, it was able to dispel ads on YouTube and most display ads on various sites we tested. This ad blocker is also widely used and highly rated. It has 4.8 out of 5 from Google Chrome users, and over 800,000 installs.
When we first tested this product, it struggled with a few ad types. Since then, and after a retest of all the tools on this list, we’re inclined to give this one a perfect score thanks to how vastly it’s improved its blocking capabilities.
- Exceptional ad blocking across all types of ads
- Free for all time
- Windows app available for ad blocking across all apps
- Tool for blocking individual website elements
- Extensive support for a large number of web browsers
- None. This is the single best tool on the market
Works with: Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Firefox, Opera, Windows, Android, iOS
This Chrome-only ad blocker is a low-impact plugin that does exactly what it’s intended to do. You can block all types of ads using this plugin, with the most obvious limitation being that it’s only available as a Chrome addon. The Stands Fair AdBlocker is not designed for wholesale ad blocking, although you can use it for that. The company believes in fair advertising and encourages users to whitelist certain ads from different sites.
Thankfully, Stands lives up to its promise of blocking ads. That included the more aggressive advertisements found on Orlando Sentinel, as well as other display ads, autoplay video ads, and ads on YouTube.
- Highly flexible blocking settings
- Blocks all types of online advertisements
- Completely and always free to use
- Effective whitelisting features
- Only works on Chrome
Works with: Chrome
With over 10 million downloads on the Chrome browser alone, Adblock Plus is the most popular ad blocking software around. A free and open-source project from the eye/o, Adblock Plus is the primary source code for many other free ad blockers available to download.
By default, Adblock Plus is not designed to block all ads, only those deemed intrusive or potential malware. The service has a nicely detailed explanation of why it has an Acceptable Ads policy and why this feature is turned on by default. That doesn’t mean you’re stuck with those ads. If you want to turn off the acceptable ads, you can easily do so in the settings.
It blocked most of the ads we found but was among the many ad blockers that couldn’t seem to deal with all of the ads on Orlando Sentinel’s website. That being the case, ABP is exceptionally good, but not a perfect solution.
- Completely free for all features
- Provides a “block element” feature for ads that are not automatically blocked
- Offers language settings
- Allows you to build custom lists or upload pre-built block lists from third parties
- Does not work on all types of ads, even with the Acceptable Ads feature turned off
Works with: Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, Internet Explorer, Opera, Safari, Yandex Browser, iOS, Android
This plugin has been hailed as the best pop-up blocker on the market by several other tech sites, which is a fair claim, although not necessarily the case from our testing. Poper Blocker works well, and we can certainly recommend it for most ad-blocking. However, it does leave many ads that the top free ad blockers on our list completely block every time.
Both the Chrome and Firefox versions of this plugin work well to block not just pop-ups but website overlays that are exceedingly common as well. For example, this tool blocks the ad-blocking overlay used by Orlando Sentinel, as well as the age verification overlay used by Tubi. If it fails to block an overlay, you can right-click the overlay to remove it. And, as with other blockers, whitelisting is available, as is the option to report when a pop-up fails to get blocked by the plugin.
Poper Blocker hits most of the criteria we look for in a blocker. It’s completely free to use and doesn’t lock any of its features behind a paywall. There’s no sign-up required, so you don’t have to give over personal information to use it, either. The only thing you may be concerned about is the fact that Poper Blocker collects and uses data anonymized — but you can opt-out of data collection services for even more privacy.
- Completely free to use at all times
- Advanced overlay blocking features
- Separate tool for blocking ads that don’t get removed automatically
- Fails to block ads on videos
- Does not block every type of pop-up ad
- Limited features
Works with: Chrome and Firefox
Trustnav is an antivirus company developed in Andorra that provides a combination adblocker and antivirus Google Chrome plugin. The antivirus solution, which is premium and costs $1.99 per month, is currently unavailable. For now, you can use the solo adblocker plugin for free.
Trustnav also currently has a “Safesearch” Chrome plugin that’s separate from the adblocker. Be sure to install the adblocker version directly from the Chrome Store.
As far as functionality goes, Trustnav presents a very easy-to-use adblocker with a slim user interface. It’s simple and effective at most things. However, the biggest problem you’ll find with this adblocker is that you can’t adjust many settings. Trustnav lets you toggle whether the adblocker is on or off, whether it is blocking all ads or just some ads, and whether you want to get alerts. Beyond that, there’s no fine-tuning, no real whitelisting, and no way to view all of your adblocking stats outside of how many ads were blocked on the site you’re visiting at the time.
Additionally, we’ve found that this ad blocker is terrible at removing ads on videos. In fact, some video streaming websites even detect its use and disallow you to stream videos if it’s turned on. That’s a big failing for an ad blocker that claims to block ads on videos.
- Beautifully simple interface
- Always free
- Blocks most static webpage ads
- Fails to block video ads
- Gets detected by anti-adblocking filters
Works with: Chrome
The result is that you’ll block most display ads you come across. This included the aggressive blocking of most webpage advertisements, even the more pernicious types that other ad blockers struggled to stop. However, the biggest limitation of this tool is that it does not block most video ads, and it fails to block many overlay ads. It’s also a more technical tool than most other ad blockers and requires a broader technical knowledge of browser architecture, making it not ideal for average users.
- An exceptionally granular-level approach to ad blocking
- Includes features to block other digital threats, such as tracking cookies and cross-site scripting requests
- Only works on Firefox
- Fails to block several types of ads, including video ads
- Not user-friendly for most people
Best feature: Complete script blocking
Works with: Firefox
If you’re looking for an all-inclusive ad blocking experience without the hassle of plugins, the Opera browser is an excellent source. Opera is one of the fastest and most well-built browsers around and was among the first web browsers to have a built-in ad blocker.
Opera’s ad blocker also works well. After turning it on in the settings, you’ll find it blocks almost every ad you come across. The only exception I found was that it failed to block the interstitial ads common on Forbes (the quote ad that often pops up before reading an article). Most of the other ad blockers we tested did block that ad from Forbes. That said, Opera blocks every other ad type that we tested, including those on Orlando Sentinel.
- Built-in ad blocking functionality
- Easy whitelisting
- Blocks all types of advertisements
- Completely free forever
- Only available on Opera browser (because it is a browser)
As good as it is, and despite the score, we listed this one lower on our list because it’s a limited option. As this is a web browser and not a separate tool that can be used as an extension, it’s ultimately less useful than the other options listed.
Works with: Opera
Why are Privacy Badger and Ghostery missing?
You may have heard of the popular ad blockers Privacy Badger and Ghostery. While we like and respect these two ad blockers, neither met our criteria based on how they function. Neither of these plugins is designed to block ads, specifically, but to deny website ads and other website elements that betray user privacy. As a result, both will block some ads some of the time but are primarily focused on privacy instead of complete security online.
That means you won’t get the kind of ad-blocking you might want from either of these plugins. Additionally, they don’t allow you much control over the type of ads they block, given their desire is to allow good ads to pass through and not block all ads wholesale.
Google Chrome Ad Blocker
Despite its bit of scaremongering, Google’s built-in ad blocker does not seem to do much. After putting it through the same tests as the other ad blockers listed above, it allowed every ad through that we could find. The built-in ad blocker is also very limited. Even finding a website where ads were blocked was difficult. And since the Chrome ad blocker is designed to only block certain types of ads, most ads you’ll find are not blocked, especially if they are ads sourced through Google’s own advertising wing.
It almost goes without saying, but Google’s ad blocker is somewhat of a joke. It might have forced some websites to clean up their act a little bit with more intentionally intrusive advertisements, but you really won’t be able to use to block ads.
Ad Blocker Testing Methodology
Ad-blocking solutions come in many forms, each targeting different types of advertisements. However, the methodology employed by an ad-blocker isn’t as crucial as its effectiveness in ensuring an unhindered browsing experience that doesn’t compromise your privacy. A superior ad blocker will offer comprehensive protection, filtering out most ad types, not just a select few.
Our methodology to determine the best free ad blockers encompassed the following criteria:
- Always free without hiding crucial features behind a paywall
- Commendable user ratings
- No requirement for an account to access services
- Recently updated (within the past 12 months)
- Available as browser extensions for at least one browser or operating system
- Blocks diverse “display ads” (floating, pop-up, banner, video, static image, wallpaper, text ads)
- Blocks streaming video ads (such as on YouTube)
In our preliminary tests, we also probed for prestitial and interstitial ads. However, the inception of Google’s built-in ad blocker on Chrome and penalties for websites exhibiting unfriendly ad practices have seen a decline in this ad format.
Google still permits interstitials for specific reasons like cookie usage notifications and age verifications. Although it’s not a separate rating criterion, we’ve identified ad blockers that block interstitial ads.
Our tests were carried out consistently across various sites and pages. The ad blockers were each assigned a score between 0-7 based on the seven testing criteria, reflecting their effectiveness.
We scored each ad blocker a 0-7 score based on those 7 testing criteria.
A note on ad blockers and website revenue
Advertisements come in many flavors, from pop-up ads to on-page advertisements and more. Some websites have even started throwing up a separate page for their ads (such as Forbes) or using autoplay video ads as soon as the page loads.
In general, consumers hate ads for a variety of reasons, including:
- They can slow down page loading
- Many are now intrusive and annoying
- They can use up precious data for those with data-limited internet plans
- The ads are often irrelevant to user interests
- The ads may interrupt the browsing or viewing experience (particularly ads on video streaming sites like Hulu or Crunchyroll)
- Many ads contain tracking cookies that send user behavior back to third parties
The quality of ads has gotten so bad that even Google includes an ad blocker in its Chrome browser now, targeting “substandard ads.” Google’s intentions might be a bit suspect, however, as the company operates a large advertisement wing of its own and likely doesn’t block any Google-sourced ads from AdSense.
Still, thanks to ads, we can enjoy most of the content we watch and read online for free, but ads do have various drawbacks. They can also serve as a vector for computer viruses or third-party hacks.
Before you dive into blocking ads on your favorite websites, we’d like to point out that those websites you’re using often rely on ad revenue to survive. While many websites are now diversifying their revenue streams (often because of increased ad blocker usage), ad revenue is still a major source of income for many websites. The use of ad blockers resulted in an estimated loss of $15.8 billion for websites in recent years.
If you like the services you receive from certain websites that you trust, we suggest you whitelist those sites in your ad blocker settings. Whitelisting is the opposite of blacklisting. Instead of telling your ad blocker to block specific sites, you’re telling it that the list of sites are ones you don’t want to block.
Whitelisting is a good way to help guarantee the sites you like and trust continue to get the ad revenue they need. Even if you never click on the advertisements, many sites get some revenue by page views, making it still beneficial for those websites if you allow their ads to show.
Free Ad Blocker FAQs
Here are answers to some of the most common free ad blocker questions.
What is the best free ad blocker?
Many of the ad blockers on our list work almost equivalently well against almost any advertisement you might find. That said, our list is structured best on usefulness. As present, Adblock Ultimate is our favorite free ad blocker.
What is the best free ad blocker for Windows 10?
Any of the options on the list that have a dedicated Windows app (and not just browser apps), are great for Windows 10. That being the case, Adblock Ultimate, Adlock, and Adguard are solid free adblockers for Windows 10 (and potentially Windows 11).
What is the best free ad blocker for Chrome?
With the exception of NoScript, every free ad blocker on our has a Chrome app extension available in the Google Chrome Store. That said, we’ll default to the #1 on our list for the best free ad blocker for Chrome (which is currently Adblock Ultimate as of this time of writing).
Do ad blockers still work?
All ad blockers on our list have been tested and retested as of the the most recent date on this article (see the update date at the top of the article). Some ad blockers don’t work, but you’ll find that any ad blocker that has been updated as of the current year likely works to block most or all ads on nearly every website you might visit.
Does Adblock stop viruses?
Yes, ad blockers, such as Adblock Ultimate or Total Adblock can block viruses. Because ad blockers prevent certain page elements from loading, this can also prevent infected scripts from load on web pages or prevent pop-ups with malicious phishing links from showing up on your screen. That said, ad blockers are not an effective antivirus tool. If you need an actual antivirus solution that also has an ad blocker, consider Total Adblock.
What's the difference between an ad blocker and a tracker blocker?
AdBlocker and Tracker Blocker are two types of software designed to protect your online privacy. An AdBlocker blocks advertisements on websites you visit, while a Tracker Blocker prevents tracking scripts from running in the background on each website you visit. A Tracker Blocker is more effective at protecting your online privacy than an AdBlocker because it prevents tracking scripts from running and collecting data about your browsing activities. It also helps reduce the amount of advertisement clutter on websites, making them less intrusive to browse.
Do ad blockers track you?
How do ad blockers work?
Ad blockers use filter lists to determine what content to block and what to allow on a webpage. These lists have rules instructing the ad blocker to identify specific content on the page. When a match is found, the ad blocker stops that content from loading, effectively blocking the ad.
Does Chrome Have a Built-In Ad Blocker?
Google Chrome has an ad blocker, but it may not be as thorough as other standalone ad blockers. Its primary focus is blocking intrusive ads that violate the Coalition for Better Ads standards rather than all ads.
Are Ad Blockers Illegal?
Using ad blockers for personal browsing is not illegal, although some websites may not allow their use. There is no law against it.
What is a DNS Ad Blocker?
A DNS ad blocker intercepts ad requests at the DNS level within your network, preventing them from loading on your device. Unlike other ad blockers, this type can protect your entire system, not just your browser.